At the recent Gamescom event in Cologne, Germany, tucked away amongst all the indie developers on the Sweden Game Arena stand was Stunlock Studios. The developer was showcasing its PvP brawler Battlerite to visitors on a couple of PC’s. The area also had a couple of HTC Vive’s setup with various indie demos available, one of which was the virtual reality (VR) spectator mode for Battlerite.
Stunlock Studios first revealed the project prior to Gamescom taking place and not long after Valve released the Dota2 International Compendium update which featured VR observer support for HTC Vive. While Valve’s release was a fully finished article, Battlerite’s VR option is still experimental but it does feature a lot of additional features its rival did not.
First and foremost was control. Looking over the battlefield arena and using either of the headsets controllers gave complete freedom to move the area around however you liked, while holding the grip buttons down allowed the arena to be spun round on its central axis. This first set of controls felt quick simple and intuitive to use, as would be for any owner of the HMD.
Then there was the zoom function, just as easy to grasp as before, simply bring both controllers together holding the grip buttons and pull apart to bring yourself right onto the arena floor. This was certainly useful getting the viewpoint as close or as far away as was necessary but once that sweet spot is found – good overall view whilst feeling like you’re in the thick of it – moving the arena around becomes a lot more engaging.
It was the camera tool that had several interesting options and showed the most promise for enabling VR observing of Battlerite matches. In the right hand was the camera which could be positioned however needed, while in the left was a feed from said camera. This allow really accurate panning and tilting movement which could then be streamed to spectators.
As previously stated this VR mode is still in the experimental phase and the software wasn’t completely glitch free by any means. At points zooming did feel erratic’ if the controllers weren’t brought apart smoothly and evenly then you could suddenly find yourself slammed on the arena floor with the combatants trampling all over you. And to get the best footage with the camera you certainly did need a steady hand.
But all in all the ability to have such free rein over each battle, watching what you wanted how you wanted is fantastic. The demo arena was very much suited to tight combat and suited spectating in VR, so it would be good to eventually see how other arenas in Battlerite fair in comparison. If Stunlock Studios can not only improve the available features on offer, but also add more, then Battlerite then it launches could well become one of the best PvP arena brawlers to watch, just as long as you have a HTC Vive that is.